Actually, her name's Marina & the Diamonds - live review

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I went to see wonderful singing lady Marina & the Diamonds last week. Marina came second in the BBC's Sound of 2010 preview, so my expectations were high.

Her sound is described as theatrical pop, and she's certainly quirky and dramatic. She performs very much as a performer - sometimes aloof, sometimes with gusto, sometimes wry, sometimes heartfelt - and always engaging.

Marina & the Diamonds live

Her songs are lyrically rather wonderful, as she deftly mixes linguistic styles. For instance, she can be singing about lost love, gender identity, or something else wonderfully universal but then drops in a mention of something delightfully pop cultural. It's all wonderfully endearing.

Marina & the Diamonds live

My highlights of the show were:

  • Marina's majestic hairflick in song Hollywood when she sings "Actually, my name's Marina" having been compared to Shakira and Catherine Zeta Jones
  • A song that may or may not be about gender equality having a reference to Girls Aloud
  • The song Shampain with lyrics: "Drinking sham-pain / Made by the angel / Who goes by the name / Of Glitter and Gabriel". It actually sounded like "... the name of Glittery Navel". Both are amazing.
  • I'm sure another song had the lyric Home Sweet Gnome Sweet Home
  • Marina has a winning way with a tambourine.

Marina & the Diamonds live

And so, the pop equation..

((Kate Bush + Tori Amos) - (piano + plaintive)) x (2010 + pop culture) x (an actress) = Marina & the Diamonds.

Charity auction of photo print: Dingle Pensinsula

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A group has recently been set up on flickr for photographers who wish to donate a print of one of their photos, to be auctioned to raise money for the relief effort in Haïti.

I think this is a great idea, and am auctioning a print of this photo of the sun streaming through clouds on Dingle Peninsula in Kerry, Ireland.

I took this on a beautiful peaceful New Years Day in 2003. Hopefully the money it will raise will help others find peace too.

Sun & Cloud, Dingle peninsula, Kerry

Click on the image above to go to flickr and bid on the image. Or leave a comment here and I'll bid on your behalf. Thanks.

Map pictograms: Haiti

Monday, January 25, 2010

I've long thought maps were cool, and I also really love map pictograms - silhouettes or shapes of countries, continents, cities showing their geographical shapes.

It's really interesting that there are some shapes we instantly recognise - the USA, Australia, UK maybe. And there are some we would not - would you know Nepal's shape, Slovenia's, El Salvador's?

So I'm always interested when I see geographical shapes being used in ads, posters or anywhere else.

I recently saw this image of Haiti / Hispaniola, in an advert to build awareness of post-earthquake relief. Many of us would not have known Haiti's shape before this week, but now it has become a symbol and a sign - we see it and instantly think Haiti, and probably think about earthquake, disaster, tragedy soon afterwards.

I see many more of these, so I am going to start posting them from now. For now, though, I'd urge you to visit to donate to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

RCA Work in Progress exhibition

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I've been to see the Royal College of Art's Work in Progress exhibition, which shows student work in photography, metalwork, silver, jewellery and fashion.

I loved the exhibition last year, so was very much looking forward to it. This year's exhibition seemed to be smaller, but included many interesting sketches, images and ideas taking shape.

It was really cool to see fashion prototypes which in years to come would become wearable, high street items but for now are exciting concepts.

Three of my favourites were:

Lee Simmon's semi-circular wood-cuts

Catherine Aitken's organically patterned textile designs

Agata Madejska's sparse, sleek architectural photography

The exhibition continues until 22 January.

Lady Gaga for Eurovision!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm being cheeky with the title here... Some Moldovan guys in a band called AKORD have entered a song called Lady Gaga to their Eurovision song selection.

Here it is. I'd love to see this in Oslo in May, and you'd never know, Lady Gaga herself might turn up on stage!

7 Brilliant Shanghai World Expo 2010 pavilions

Friday, January 08, 2010

I think World Expos are rather fascinating - a great big gathering of nations all showing their countries to the world. It's a great big geography funfair! It's Eurovision for architects! (thanks Mr Clapham Omnibus) Ergo, it must be amazing.

Later this year, the 2010 World Expo is being held in Shanghai - with some amazing pavilions being built to showcase individual nation's landscapes and cultural outputs. Here are some of my favourites.

The Russian pavilion has 12 towers with white, red and gold designs inspired by traditional Russian womens' costumes. How very babushka.

The Israeli pavilion has two forms clasping on to each other - one modern, futuristic, constructed and one traditional, vintage, natural.

The Swiss pavilion is a technological masterpiece with an interactive LED facade and electronic outline of the country's pictogram. But my favourite part is the chair lift on the rooftop.

The British pavilion is a striking piece of sculpture by artist Thomas Heatherwick. It's very striking and dramatic.

The Finnish pavilion looks modern, sleek and very Finnish minimalist cool. It's named kirnu - a giant's kettle - and its surface will resemble fish scales.

The pavilion for the United Arab Emirates is shaped like a sand dune.

The Polish pavilion has a designed inspired by Wycinanki, the Polish traditional folk art paper cut-outs.

To see just one of these buildings would be amazing, so all of them plus many more all on one site must truly a marvel to behold.

(All images come from designboom - click on them to see full postings of the pavilions)

Green Lanes: Turkish shops & cosmopolitanism

Monday, January 04, 2010

Continuing my series of London bars, cafés, shops and restaurants named after foreign places, I took a trip to Green Lanes. Given the sizeable Greek, Turkish and Cypriot communities living nearby, I expected to come away with many venues named after places in those countries.

I wasn't disappointed, with major cities counted for - Bodrum restaurant, Diyarbakir restaurant and Istanbul barbers and a closed cafe bar with the name Kibris (the Turkish name for Cyprus), but four of the many many venues bearing Turkish and Greek names.

Bodrum restaurant

Diyarbakır restaurant

Istanbul barbers

Kibris café bar

Eastern European names also featured, with a Danube bakery and a derelict shop named after Moldova.

Danube bakery

Moldova store

I was more surprised to find venues and shops named after more Western European cities - a Paris beauty salon (a place to become tres belle) and Milano restaurant.

Paris beauty salon

Milano café bar